Another Christmas. This time it’s with books.
And it’s Christmas. So you sit around a tree, and there are not enough chairs for everyone. Someone gets uncomfortable on a floor, or an occasional stool. Everyone is seated at a different height, not quite fitting in a photo. You stretch your arms as far as they will go…SMILE…nobody smiles. Except you. Granny twiddles her thumbs and stares at her skirt, mother runs to the kitchen, because, FUCK, something is burning. Dad mumbles about gadgetry-it was different when you could shake it like a Polaroid picture. Everyone wishes for a different type of potato. Mashed or creamed or roasted or all of them. Never enough. Brothers and sisters and neighbours and friends wait. They wait for the presents. You had to buy presents, even if you didn’t want to. Everyone wants a present.
“What time’s the Queen’s speech?”
“What’s that, dear?”
“Three o’clock, Granny. This is yours. Open it.”
“Burning. Definite burning. Did I take the giblets out?”
“What’s this, dear? I forgot my reading glasses.”
“A book. Here, use mine.”
“Nothing Doing. Spider what?”
“Fuck, Granny. Fuck. Spider Fuck.”
“DOES ANYBODY REMEMBER IF I TOOK THE GIBLETS OUT?”
“Spider fuck. The horniest picture I ever saw was in National Geographic. It was a spider’s asshole magnified fifty times. Resembled a soggy Cheerio on a slate background.”
“The turkey has melted.”
“Spider fuck spider fuck spider fuck spider fuck.”
“You have taught the baby bad words.”
“Whose is this? No tag. I’ll have it.”
“It’s exploded. The pressure must have built up inside. The turkey is ruined.”
“A book. ‘I remember my wedding day.
Do you take this …, began the axe murderer
in his dog collar, reaching for the chain saw’…
…reminds me of your mother.”
“WHO HAS EATEN ALL THE GRAVY?”
“Doorbell. Who is at the door? It’s the Polish plumber. WHAT IS HE DOING HERE?”
“Dad! He is my boyfriend, I told you. I love him.”
“Hello. I gift all you. ”
So, you see, the Polish plumber turns up. Last year it was the tattooed lorry driver. Who? We never know their names. Dad hates them all. So you receive a gift from the Polish plumber, expecting it to be a pack of fags or a sausage and you say this and your sister says you are a racist. It’s a book.
“It’s about The Poland,” that’s what the Polish plumber says.
So you stare at the book. The book called ‘The Wooden Tongue Speaks. Romanians: Contradictions & Realities’. Yes. You agree; it is easier.
“You see? Listen, ‘It bothers me to think that I was being listened to, that my phones were tapped, my walls too, and the neighbours had glasses up to theirs. In fact the walls were so thin there was no need for glasses. As a boy I could hear how my neighbours upstairs chased each other and the woman screamed: “Help!” But nobody stopped her husband.’ Poland. Not nice.”
“Stuffing. I put a chicken in. The turkey exploded. Should the stuffing be IN the chicken? Or balls? I put a chicken in because of the turkey.”
“It’s about Romania.”
“Don’t be a racist.”
“Chicken? On Christmas day? Put the balls in the chicken.”
“Where are my teeth? I have Cyclops sex.”
So then Granny stands up, and around her toothless gums she reads. She reads from a book the Polish Plumber gave her. I’ll give him his due, he likes to gift.
” ‘You leak like me,’ he said. ‘Like me and the animals, you never did before.’ Is the Queen on yet?”
“Dinner is ruined. The stuffing won’t fit in the chicken.”
It is a poussin.
This is Christmas.
 The Wooden Tongue Speaks: Romanians Contradictions & Realities by Bogdan Tiganov